Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Team named after Justin Fashanu

Justin Fashanu
Justin Fashanu was the UK's first footballer to profess his homosexuality

A football team has been named after openly gay striker Justin Fashanu who killed himself almost 11 years ago.

The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich player was 37 years old when he was found hanging from the rafters of an east London garage in May 1998.

The Justin Fashanu All-stars were launched at a special event in Brighton, supported by the FA.

The team has been created by the Justin Campaign which promotes the inclusion of openly gay players in football.

The pink and black team kit which is sponsored by DJ Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim, was unveiled at the event on Saturday.

'Change opinions'

The side, which is open to gay or straight footballers, is to play its first fixtures at the Gay Football Supporters Network five-a-side tournament in Yorkshire.

Jason Hall, from the Justin Campaign, said: "We decided that the best thing to do was to have a campaigning football team so the football does the talking.

"Hopefully [we'll] change people's opinions of gay people on the pitch."

Justin Fashanu All-stars
The players say they want their football to do the talking

Kevin Tharme, of the Sussex FA, said: "The FA are trying to do more and they are trying to reduce homophobic chants and things.

"On a local level, unfortunately, we still do get cases of homophobic abuse to players and players are reported, booked and sent off for it and they are duly fined and suspended for it."

Mr Fashanu was the UK's first professional footballer to be open about his homosexuality and remains the only prominent player in the country to have done so.

In the early 1980s he was rated as one of English football's brightest young stars but his career took a nosedive after a 1m move to Nottingham Forest and a serious knee injury.

The inquest into his death heard of allegations that Mr Fashanu was wanted by police in the US over allegations that he sexually assaulted a teenage boy.

In his suicide note he denied the allegation, but predicted that he would be treated unfairly because he was homosexual.

The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide, saying Mr Fashanu had appeared to triumph over prejudice about his colour and his homosexuality but the pressures, coupled with the alleged incident, had overwhelmed him.

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